06/05/2013 10:51 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2013

Pot Magazines Equal To Porn? Booksellers Join Marijuana Magazines' Lawsuit Against New Colorado Pot Law


Booksellers have joined the fight alongside marijuana magazines challenging a new Colorado law which requires pot magazines to be treated like pornography and kept behind a counter at shops.

The Associated Press reported that the American Civil Liberties Union filed this separate lawsuit on behalf of booksellers, on Tuesday. The book stores represented in the federal lawsuit include The Tattered Cover and other book shops and newsstands in Denver and across the state, CBS4 reports.

This new lawsuit comes a week after three marijuana publications -- The Daily Doobie, The Hemp Connoisseur and High Times Magazine -- filed suit to block a provision of Colorado's new marijuana legalization laws which mandated that marijuana publications be sold only behind a counter in public retail stores "where persons under twenty-one years of age are present."

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several landmark marijuana-related measures into law last week establishing Colorado as the world's first legal, taxed and regulated recreational marijuana market for adults. Those measures also came with several provisions designed to limit the exposure of children to marijuana advertising after some parents complained that the magazines were visible to children in stores.

Denver free speech attorney David Lane argued that the provision specifically targets the publications' right to free speech and clashes with the primary idea behind Amendment 64 to "regulate marijuana like alcohol."

“Amendment 64 was passed by Colorado voters who intended to ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol’... [but publications] ‘whose primary focus is alcohol or alcohol businesses’ are not regulated or penalized the same way as Plaintiffs’ marijuana-focused publications.”

In an editorial by The Daily Doobie, one of the marijuana publications involved in the suit, this double standard was noted:

The purpose of Amendment 64 was to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Images of other legal drugs alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals—abound in the public sphere, as do magazines that write about and depict their use. Relegating High Times (and the Daily Doobie) to the back shelf, therefore, violates the spirit of 64 when Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator are perfectly visible at Barnes & Noble.

The magazine editorial questions the logic of how a marijuana publication like High Times Magazine can be purchased on a shelf in the state of Mississippi -- where recreational-marijuana is illegal -- but must be sold only behind the counter in the state of Colorado where it is legal.

Colorado is the first state to require pot magazines to be placed behind the counter in stores that grant entry to shoppers under the age of 21.

When the measure was being considered, a lawyer for High Times Magazine told The Associated Press that the magazine restriction "patently unconstitutional" and said there's no legal precedent for treating pictures of a drug as obscene.



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